In a new ad already generating buzz before it is broadcast on television, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says go ahead and save money by eating a Big Mac…your family will need the money for your funeral.
Pretty harsh, right? The ad - displayed below - features a woman crying over a dead man in what it believed to be a morgue, who is still clutching his beloved fast food burger. We pan to the man's dead feet when McDonald's trademark golden arches outline them, with a not-so-gentle poke at the burger giant's slogan: "I was lovin' it."
Now the PCRM - a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine - openly calls its new ad "provocative," in a press release, saying the goal is to reduce Washington, D.C.'s consumption of fast food to reduce rates of heart disease deaths. The PCRM is headquartered in the nation's capitol.
Susan Levin, the group's nutrition education director, says the District's "addiction to Big Macs and other high-fat fast food is literally breaking our hearts," and that the time has come to address this issue "head on." The group is calling for a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants as a "critically important step" to fight the epidemic.
The group even cites a survey in which Washington, D.C., has more McDonald's, Burger King and KFC locations per square mile than eight other cities of comparable size.
Not surprisingly, the ad has come under fire from the National Restaurant Association and McDonald's itself, which calls the commercial, "outrageous, misleading, and unfair to all consumers," in a statement.
"McDonald’s trusts our customers to put such outlandish propaganda in perspective, and to make food and lifestyle choices that are right for them," the statement concludes.
And it seems viewers are also turned off by the ad - before it even debuts on television Sept. 16 during Comedy Central's The Daily Show and local news broadcasts; the PCRM says the commerical will air in additional cities in coming months. A Wall Street Journal poll indicates that more than half of respondents find it "unfair" to blame McDonald's for heart disease.
The ad achieves its goal - it gets you to react to the message. But the PCRM' solution to the problem doesn't advocate healthier choices at McDonald's and other fast food chains or offer heart healthy solutions if you do enjoy a Big Mac or two now and then. It goes right for the extreme. It says let's stop putting fast food restaurants in our community, because in the end, it will kill you.
Fast food restaurants have come under fire lately for their high-fat, high-calorie offerings, but have also in the last few years taken steps to add calorie counts to items, add lower fat items and other alternatives. The point that the PCRM recognizes, but also ignores, is that fast food restaurants are popular. They always have been and always will be in a society that is constantly on the run and - especially these days - short on cash.
Now I'm not going to get into a demographic and socioeconomic review of the District or any other location because it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. McDonald's and their counterparts are everywhere - Moscow, Beijing, and even with our troops serving in the Middle East. The fact is the food has appeal, like it or not, PCRM.
What the PCRM should be doing is stop shocking viewers with ultimatums and start offering suggestions on how we can all co-exist with Ronald, the Colonel, His Majesty and the other fast food icons who - like it or not - reside in our neighborhoods.